Growing up, one of my favorite NFL coaches was Tom Landry. I loved the quiet, calm reserve he demonstrated; seemingly never frustrated or elated. I remember watching in amazement for his non-reaction whenever they would score. Of course, I thought his trademark fedora was cool too!
Landry has been criticized for his demeanor by his critics and players alike; claiming nobody seemed to really know him. That was a disappointment to learn about my favorite coach, but I still admire him anyway. He was a revolutionary giant of the game of football with a winning record that still stands.
Coach Landry once said, “I’ve learned that something constructive comes from every defeat.” I believe, essentially, the same thing. We learn more from life’s challenges, than we do from our successes.
Now some people may disagree and say that we learn from both equally, but I don’t believe that. I believe we take our successes for granted, not stopping long enough to learn the what, why and how of the success, and striving for continuous improvement. Instead, we are too busy celebrating our good fortune, taking for granted what it took to achieve it.
No blame there, it’s natural. It happens.
On the flip side, we do take the time to learn from defeat, or we should, because we tend to remember those lessons. Whether it’s full on defeat, a minor set back, a mere frustration or a shocking disappointment, those times are ripe for learning.
What went wrong? Why? How can we handle it differently next time?
Every sports coach asks these questions after games; win or lose, but especially in defeat.
We, as leaders and as individuals, should be asking those questions as well. Whether it’s falling short of a goal, experiencing a flat out failure or loss, having a difficult personal or professional relationship, it’s ripe for learning. What can “I” do differently next time? As a leader, as a contributing team member or as an individual, the answer belongs to you.
What are your current challenges? A difficult boss? Poor performing employees? A frustrating job or no job at all? What are the lessons in this challenge? What will you do different next time?
Whatever the situation, take advantage of it; it’s ripe for learning.